New Facebook Sweepstakes! Enter to Win an iPad Mini!

To enter the Sweepstakes, visit our Facebook Page and then look for the Sweepstakes tab (image shown below) located on our Facebook Page to enter. Sweepstakes ends June 30th, 2015. We suggest you like our page to keep informed about future sweepstakes and community happenings.

For mobile users, click here to enter.

New Facebook Sweepstakes! Enter to Win an iPad Mini!

To enter the Sweepstakes, visit our Facebook Page and then look for the Sweepstakes tab (image shown below) located on our Facebook Page to enter. Sweepstakes ends April 30th, 2015. We suggest you like our page to keep informed about future sweepstakes and community happenings.

For mobile users, click here to enter.

Does it Make More Sense to Buy or to Rent?

"Does it make more sense to buy or to rent?" It's a question many renters ask themselves, and it's not necessarily one with a simple answer.

A recent study conducted by HelloWallet and reported by U.S. News & World Report suggested that "more than half of current homeowners would have actually been better off financially by renting and investing during the particular period in which they bought," and noted the homeownership rate of people 35 and younger has fallen to just 36%, a record low. Some of that is undoubtedly due to financial necessity, but the low homeownership rate may also be motivated by a desire to stay mobile in the face of job opportunities. The HelloWallet study noted, for instance, that homeownership makes more sense for those planning to stay in a house for more than four years, with the exact number of years dependent on the area's "rent-to-price ratio."

In some cases it can make financial sense to consider buying. A Bankrate.com article entitled "Answering the rent-or-buy riddle" suggests that the combination of low home prices and high (and increasing) rents in a given rental market can make it make sense for renters to think about buying a home — especially for those who want to stay in the same place.

Bankrate.com offers a useful "Rent vs. Buy Calculator" which asks questions about whether you can afford a lump sum down payment, what your monthly budget is like, and whether you have an enthusiasm for doing the inevitable home maintenance projects that pop up. People shouldn't underestimate the costs of such "hidden expenses": an Investopedia article on "The Hidden Costs of Home Ownership" notes that potential homeowners should also consider the amortized costs of really big expenses like replacing a house's roof, its HVAC system, or its plumbing, along with other more routine costs like maintenance, taxes, and insurance.

Renters take note: such upkeep costs may not be captured accurately in a rent vs. buy calculator! Undoubtedly a decision about whether to rent or to buy involves more than just financial concerns, but doing your financial due diligence might help you reframe the question of whether it makes more sense to buy or to rent.

"Study: Renting is Smarter Than Buying for Half of Homeowners" [U.S. News & World Report]
"Answering the rent-or-buy riddle" [Bankrate.com]
"Rent vs. Buy Calculator" [Bankrate.com]
"The Hidden Costs of Homeownership" [Investopedia]

New Facebook Sweepstakes! Enter to Win an iPad Mini!

To enter the Sweepstakes, Like our Facebook Page and then look for the Sweepstakes tab (image shown below) located on our Facebook Page to enter. Sweepstakes ends February 28, 2015.

For mobile users ONLY, like our Facebook Page, and then click here to enter!

Energy Saving Tips for Renters

As fall turns into winter and the temperature drops, many apartment renters find themselves turning on their heat once again. Turning on the heat means turning up energy costs, but energystar.com has some tips to help you conserve energy and save money in your apartment home:

Use Your Thermostat Efficiently
If your apartment has a programmable thermostat, take some time to program it with the most energy efficient settings. The ENERGY STAR website has some helpful tips for programming thermostats properly. For example, the site recommends keeping the heat at a constant low throughout the day and again at night. If your apartment's thermostat is non-programmable, you should be sure to remember to turn the heat down when you'll be asleep or you won't be home.

Get Help from the Sun
By opening curtains, blinds, and drapes during the day, you can let sunlight in to help warm your space. Likewise, closing curtains at night can help keep cold air at bay. In the heat of summer, you can help your space remain cool by closing curtains and blinds during the day to keep out direct sunlight.

Make Other Energy Saving Changes
While you're planning to keep your apartment home warm in the most efficient way possible, it's also worthwhile to take some time to think about other energy saving changes you could make to help lower your utility bills. Some simple ways to conserve energy include taking showers rather than baths, unplugging televisions, stereos, and other electronic devices when you're not using them, and replacing incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs or LED bulbs.

For more tips on using energy more efficiently in your apartment home, check out the following links:
Proper Use Guidelines for Programmable Thermostats [energystar.gov]
Top 10 Tips for Renters! [energystar.gov]

New Facebook Sweepstakes! Enter to Win an iPad Mini!

To enter the Sweepstakes, Like our Facebook Page and then look for the Sweepstakes tab (image shown below) located on our Facebook Page to enter. Sweepstakes ends December 31, 2014.

For mobile users ONLY, like our Facebook Page, and then click here to enter!

Advertise Your Apartment for Rent on the 4 Walls Internet Listing Service

Hoping to generate new leads for your apartment community? Consider advertising your apartment for rent on the 4 Walls internet listing service! Your strategically positioned ad on the 4 Walls ILS can help connect you with quality rental prospects whose search for a new apartment is already underway.

4 Walls offers three different monthly subscription plans to fit the unique needs of your property or community. Helping you stand out among the competition, our Premium and Spotlight plans provide ample room for listing dozens of amenities, and you can even add floorplans and up to 50 high-quality photos to really grab the attention of apartment seekers. Our Spotlight package promises the broadest amount of exposure: Premier ad positioning helps catch the eye of apartment hunters, and a link to your property's virtual tour is also included. Our Premium and Spotlight packages even come equipped with lead tracking services!

Want to test the waters first? Try out our third, and newest, offering: the Pay Per Prospect plan. This budget-friendly, low-commitment plan connects you with new renters at a rate of just $12 per lead—for a fee of no more than $120 per month.

For more information about advertising your property on the 4 Walls internet listing service, contact us today!

Learn How to Protect Your Belongings with Renters Insurance

Let's say your bicycle is stolen. Or you lose your engagement ring. Or your apartment is burglarized.

Your landlord's insurance policy only covers the building, not your belongings. But if you have renters insurance, your losses would be covered in all three scenarios. Yet, only an estimated 34 percent of renters have policies.

Many believe renters insurance is as expensive as, say, car insurance. But it's not, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Most policies are less than $200 per year, which is a small expense when considering the cost of replacing your belongings if you experience a loss.

The website usa.gov offers resources for renters on renters insurance, including how to secure a policy, determine what type of policy would be best for you, and how to do an inventory of your possessions. For example, if you have expensive jewelry, you might want to consider adding extra coverage because a standard policy only covers jewelry up to $1,500. You can also get tips on other topics relating to renters, such as how to select a reputable moving company.

Visit usa.gov for more information!

USA.gov Housing Publications
Renter's Insurance
Your Home Inventory

New Facebook Sweepstakes! Enter to Win an iPad Mini!

To enter the Sweepstakes, Like our Facebook Page and then look for the Sweepstakes tab (image shown below) located on our Facebook Page to enter. Sweepstakes ends October 31, 2014.

For mobile users ONLY, like our Facebook Page, and then click here to enter!

Lease Coming Up?

If you want to move soon, look carefully and make contingency plans.

In most big metro areas, it's hardest to rent from July through September: a surge of student and new graduate rentals means you might pay as much as 3% above the yearly average.

Things get easier in October, with November and December being the easiest months; few people want to move right before the holidays. If you can't find the right apartment this summer or get squeezed by prices, try asking your landlord to tack on an extra 1-3 months. Many are happy to negotiate.

Didn't work? Hit the listings hard mornings (9-11 am) in the first and last weeks of the month. The former guarantees variety, while the latter often results in bargains.

Got moving questions? Ask us.